Here's a safe prediction for 2000: John Worsfold will be linked to a
senior coaching position at some stage of the season. Regardless of whether he
ends up with a top job in 2001, he will be a serious candidate somewhere.
It is possible, as Worsfold admits, that he may not want to coach at the
highest level. He may not even have the right blend of ambition and insanity for
the job, but his profile, successful history and hard-man reputation makes him
such an obvious candidate for a job that other clubs will take a close look at
Worsfold's decision to take on an assistant coaching job at Carlton greatly
enhances his marketability as a senior coach. By the season's end, he will have
more experience than Tim Watson had, but with a similar brand name.
He will have many of the perceived qualifications of a senior coach:
premierships as a player, a tough guy with peer respect, brains and, crucially,
he will have played under and assisted two big-name coaches in Mick Malthouse
and David Parkin. Coaching is like kung fu: it helps to have earned your black
belt under a master.
Worsfold's decision to join the Blues, rather than Fremantle or West Coast,
was a mini-shock of the finals series. The appointment was sudden and appeared
to have happened without the complete knowledge of Parkin.
Worsfold was signed to a three-year contract and, understandably, we wondered
if Parko was warming the seat for the former West Coast skipper, even if he
joins a suddenly crowded coaching box at Optus Oval, where the Blues have also
added Ross Lyon to their fleet of part and full-time specialist coaches.
Worsfold says he chose Carlton because he thought that, career-wise, it
represented the best option. At Carlton, he would be given ``the opportunity
here to work with senior coaches with great experience in the game".
``There was an opportunity for me to have a big involvement, a big input, as
well as me learning," he said.
``I felt as though at West Coast I don't know how much of an input I could
have had, because of their structures that were in place.
``In Fremantle I felt as though I could have an input without maybe learning
a lot. Whereas at Carlton I feel as though I've got the best of both worlds."
It was, as Worsfold said, a big decision. He left his Perth pharmacy in the
hands of a manager. He decided to put on hold - perhaps indefinitely - a media
career that was beginning to blossom.
Worsfold says his interest in coaching was fuelled by his unsuccessful
application for the senior job at Hawthorn. He says he learnt much from the
process and found that he enjoyed answering questions in the interview. ``That's
probably when I really started to put a lot of thought in to it, going through
that interview process."
Parkin, never one to damn his underlings with faint praise, is enthusiastic
about gaining an assistant with Worsfold's blue-chip credentials. ``What he's
shown so far, he's a very straight bloke, very intelligent guy, with good
character, works hard. We're going to benefit enormously from having him. He's
not long out of the game. He's played a role in a very successful club and team.
``People said it was `white line fever' but I don't think we've seen a better
competitor once he crossed the line, than John. We interviewed all the players
and the reaction once they knew John was coming was very exciting ... He'll have
to earn his respect as a coach - there's no doubt about that. He's already done
sufficient in the way he's gone about footy that will endear people to him."
Parkin downplayed the apparent confusion that surrounded the Worsfold
appointment in September, as the Blues were hurtling towards the grand final.
``I actually spoke to him first. There was a plan of when it was going to be
done and it was just done at a time when I thought it was indicated that it was
going to be done afterwards. I hadn't really spoken to John in detail. We were
going to leave it until after the finals. I had no problem with that. That's the
club's responsibility to do that."
Worsfold is ready to learn about the caper. He will find out, firstly, if
coaching is his calling. ``I'm going to throw myself in to it. And at the end of
the season, I may think it's not what I want to do. In terms of assistant
coaching, maybe I think if I'm not a senior coach, then nothing. Or I might
think, after seeing what the senior coach goes through, I don't want to do it.
``I mean, I've got a fair idea that I'm going to enjoy it this year and look
to take the next step, whether it be in a year's time or five years' time. I
don't know how long you need."